"World of Dance" Week 7 Recap: I'll Duel You One Better

The Kings, proving that they have nothing whatsoever to prove (Trae Patton/NBC)

The stakes are never not high on a show like "World of Dance," but last night's episode—the very last of the Duels eps for this season—felt especially fraught. Why? The theme running through most of the routines (and the scores, and the results) was that age-old competition debate of tricks versus "goosies," as J.Lo would put it. A couple of teams made a point of not including any tricks in their choreo, another netted a perfect 100 from one judge after tons of stunts, and Ne-Yo admitted he's never felt the "goosies." (Um, do you even go here?!) As the Season 3 Duels wrapped up, the real question wasn't which acts would advance to The Cut, but whether it would be gasp-inducing stunts or heart-tugging artistry that would come out on top.


SIUDY FLAMENCO VS. FUEGO DANCE CREW

This was a nail-biter of a battle-of-the-sexes. In one corner, we had Siudy, beautifully representing flamenco dancers everywhere—but on a TV show that sometimes tends to favor dance styles that are more familiar to US audiences. In the other corner, there was Fuego Dance Crew, getting down with flashy, attention-grabbing choreo. It broke our hearts that Siudy was eliminated, but at the same time we get what J.Lo was saying about how their non-flamenco moments felt a little "basic."

UNITY L.A. VS. STYLE & GRACE

In contrast, there really was no contest here. While these two groups do share a stunning synchronicity and intense attack fueling every movement, there was a dynamism in Unity L.A.'s choreo that Style & Grace just couldn't seem to match. Ultimately, it was that exciting propulsive quality that sent Unity L.A. on to The Cut—and led J.Lo to suggest that they have what it takes to win the whole darn thing. No pressure, guys.

THE HEIMA VS. EXILES

Exiles kicked this Duel off with a super-entertaining routine that seemed hard to beat, full as it was with eye-popping togetherness and impressive feats (including an amazing sight gag that we're still not over, tbh). But then The Heima threw down the gauntlet in a major way. It didn't hurt that the Korean group danced to "Natural" (keep an eye out for my forthcoming TED talk on how it's impossible to NOT feel hype when listening to Imagine Dragons), but right from the opener—10-plus seconds of effortless headspins—it was painfully obvious that they'd already won. (Though Exiles took the Redemption round over Motiv Crew, so we'll see more of them in coming rounds, too!) Hard to imagine how The Heima will top this particular performance next week, when The Cut begins.

MAIN GUYS VS. RADIANCE

This duel might have just as well been renamed Goofiness vs. Gravitas. While we're not going to deny that we giggled pretty much all the way through the Main Guys' gag-tastic hip-hop choreo, their silly swagger just couldn't stand up to Radiance's flawlessly synchronized contemporary lines. Radiance's greater numbers made every hard hit all the more stunning, and set them up to show off more of that dignified girl power in The Cut.

THE KINGS VS. MOTIV CREW

Motiv Crew is classic "World of Dance": hard-hitting, technically outstanding hip hop with electric stage presence. But what edged The Kings over Motiv in this round was the extra-special sauce that the Bollywood-influenced Kings bring to everything they do. Their performances include not only mind-boggling tricks and crisp precision, but also a slapstick energy that makes it all so much fun to watch. No wonder Ne-Yo gave them a perfect 100. Dear Kings, can we be y'all when we grow up?

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Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!

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Dance News
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)

In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."

Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.

In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.

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Mind
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)

Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!

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